#MuffinMonday: Butternut Squash Raisin Mini Muffins

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It’s time for another Monday filled with muffins!

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins to brighten their Mondays. There isn’t a theme to #MuffinMonday posts so anything goes, as long as it’s a muffin! (A big thank you to Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm for helping organize everything this month.)

You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday can be found on our home page.

Recently, my husband and I have been getting in the money saving habit of constantly making breakfast burritos. He takes these burritos to work with him on mornings he’s hitting the gym. An act which is saving us about $9 every other day!

He likes filling his burritos with meat (I’ll use leftover chicken/steak from the week or the typical breakfast sausage or bacon), cheese, eggs, and some sort of vegetable medley. The latest vegetable inclusion has been butternut squash. I grab the pre-cut squash from the produce section of the grocery store.

We used about half a tub for his burritos and the other half I used to make mini muffins. And guess what, Firecracker inhaled them! Hooray for sneaky veggies. These muffins were perfect for rounding out a balanced breakfast.

I think next time I’ll try freezing the leftover squash and toss it into their smoothies.

This recipe makes 4 dozen mini muffins.

Butternut Squash Raisin Mini Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C canola oil
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 3/4 C mashed butternut squash
  • 3/4 C raisins
  • cinnamon sugar, for topping

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil, and milk together. Add in the squash until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Fold in the raisin.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, 3/4 full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with cinnamon sugar. Bake 10-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan to a cooling rack.

*This recipe is adapted from Becky at http://www.thetwobiteclub.com/2015/01/cinnamon-crunch-butternut-squash-muffins.html*

Butternut Squash Raisin Mini Muffins for #MuffinMonday from Sew You Think You Can Cook

And don’t forget to check out these other muffin recipes:

Ackee and Saltfish Muffins from Passion Kneaded

Apple Cinnamon Muffins from Farm Fresh Feasts

Bacon Gruyere Muffins from Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Butternut Squash Raisin Mini Muffins from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Lemony Olive Oil Muffins from A Day in the Life on the Farm

Swiss Almond Vanilla Muffins from Food Lust People Love

Zucchini Walnut Muffin from Palatable Pastime

Blackberry Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies #DarkRecipes #SolarEclipse

Are you in the path of totality for the solar eclipse today? If you are, I am so incredibly jealous!

The pastor of our church actually headed out of town back to her home state of Nebraska where her family farm will experience the magic and wonder. I’m kind of wondering why we didn’t think to make a vacation out of the once-in-a-lifetime event.

I’ve been nervous though about protecting my children.

the boys

I know the approved solar eclipse glasses are not exactly kid approved – definitely not toddler approved! My children don’t exactly keep things on their faces anyway.

My mom shared some great pinhole projector ideas, one of which involves making one of out a box large enough to stick your head into. That definitely seems like the safest bet for my rascals – just stuff their head in a box and that should protect their eyes!

The local library has an event going on and I was super pumped to go to it. But the more I thought about it, the more I figured it probably wouldn’t be the safest idea. Could I really keep an eye on my two high-energy boys amidst a sea of over 100 people and get a chance to view the eclipse through glasses? I have to go with the non-selfish vote of “no.”

Our balcony doesn’t get sunlight in the morning, when the partial eclipse is supposed to happen for us in SoCal, so using a colander to project the shadows onto the ground isn’t going to work well, either.

We might be able to go to the playground. It’s not like my children look up at the sun on a regular basis anyway. And they are so young that they’re not going to understand the beauty of the event. Only problem for me is that I won’t have glasses (I was counting on using those provided by the library!).

Watch it be cloudy anyway and all my fretting is for nothing.

If you haven’t caught the eclipse frenzy you can fake it with some dark recipes. Kind of like that big football game you pretend to care about just for the food. Thanks to Sue of Palatable Pastime for coming up with and hosting this event!

Blackberry Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • milk, if needed
  • blackberry jam

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, chocolate extract, and salt until smooth.
  3. Add in the flour and cocoa powder and beat until the dough comes together. If it is too dry, add in a tablespoon or two of milk.
  4. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball, place on a prepared baking sheet, flatten slightly, and press your thumb (or a small spoon) in the center.
  5. Bake 15-17 minutes, until set. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Once cool, fill thumbprints with blackberry jam.

*This recipe is adapted from Grishma and Vikas at http://www.feastie.com/recipe/zaika-zabardast/blackforest-thumbprints*

Blackberry Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies for #DarkRecipes #SolarEclipse

Be sure to check out these other Dark Recipes for the Solar Eclipse:

Chinese Mooncakes (Snow Skin Mooncakes) by Caroline’s Cooking

Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies by Palatable Pastime

Eclipse Pizza by Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Homemade Moon Pies by Family Around the Table

Ramen and a Martini from the Abyss by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Sweet Dark Cherry Crepes by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Triple Chocolate Cookies by The Freshman Cook

#BundtBakers: Strawberry Bundts

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I have been sitting on this cake for months! And that is not an exaggeration. Tammy of Living the Gourmet is hosting and announced the theme of “Strawberry Bundts” back in spring and I baked this beauty in early June.

#BundtBakers is a group of bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

We eat strawberries by the pound here. They’ve been my kids’ favorite food/fruit for well over a year now. With a weekly Farmers Market across the street dishing out California fresh berries year round, we’re never without these red beauties.

And yes, this is my fourth strawberry recipe since my “break“. Told you we like strawberries around here!

boys want cake

When I think of using strawberries in a creative way I immediately go to balsamic vinegar. So, is that really creative? Meh. It’s a delicious combination either way.

This cake has a lot of moving parts. Cake. Frosting. Drizzle. Berries. And is it all worth it? Yes! Will I do it all again? Yes! I have some of the frosting in the freezer and Firecracker can’t stop talking about baking a strawberry cake with Tilly when she comes to visit. (Update: He forgot all about baking anything once she was here. We kept busy creating his Homeschooling corner, hanging artwork that’s been leaning against the wall for the past 16 months, going to the beach and the tide pools, and even sewing!)

Strawberry Balsamic Bundt Cake for #BundtBakers from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Strawberry Balsamic Bundt Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 C dark brown sugar
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 C cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 C buttermilk

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1 C + 6 tbsp sugar, divided use
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 sticks butter, softened

Ingredients for the garnish:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the drizzle:

  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heavily grease a bundt pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer, alternating with the buttermilk. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out cleanly.
  4. For the frosting, put the chopped strawberries, 2 tbsp sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries are soft, 5-8 minutes. Let cool slightly before transferring to a blender to puree until smooth. Chill.
  5. Also for the frosting, whisk the egg whites and the remaining sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk consistently until a thermometer measures 160 degrees F and the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 8 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and add in the softened butter 2 tbsp at a time, until fully incorporated, and frosting is thick and smooth (it will most likely curdle during the process, just keep going and keep trusting!). Add in the cooled strawberry puree until fully incorporated.
  6. Make the garnish: Stir together the diced strawberries, sugar, vinegar, and vanilla in a bowl. Let macerate 20-30 minutes.
  7. For the drizzle: Reduce the balsamic and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat down to 4 tbsp. Set aside.

*This recipe is adapted from Annie at http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/06/07/strawberry-balsamic-cupcakes/*

Strawberry Balsamic Bundt Cake for #BundtBakers from Sew You Think You Can Cook

You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

And don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have created this month:

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Poke Bundt by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice

Freeze Dried Strawberry Bundt with Cream Cheese Glaze by Sweet Sensations

Jam Strawberry Bundt Cake by Bizcocheando

Lemon Strawberry Poke Bundt by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Neapolitan Zebra Bundt Cake by All That’s Left Are The Crumbs

Strawberry Balsamic Bundt Cake by Sew You Think You Can Cook

Strawberry & Cream Bundt Cake by Patty’s Cakes

Strawberry Crunch Bundt Cake by Cookaholic Wife

Strawberry Bundt Mousse Cake by Sneha’s Recipe

Strawberry Bundt Cake with White Chocolate Ganache by The Queen of Scones

Strawberries & Cream Naked Bundt Cake by Living the Gourmet

Strawberry Key Lime Cheesecake Bundt by The Crumby Kitchen

Strawberry Orange Bundt Cake by I Love Bundt Cakes

Tuesday Tattles: 3rd Birthday

It’s time for another Tuesday Tattles.

A very long overdue Tuesday Tattles, at that!

Over a month ago, my Firecracker had his golden birthday and is now a three year old!

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It has been an absolute joy becoming a mother with my Firecracker. His turning 3 has been the most emotional, yet! 1 felt like a milestone and an accomplishment, but he was still a baby. 2 was a quiet birthday with a party a couple of weeks late. But 3! At 3 my little man has such a personality, with strong opinions, a sassy attitude, and a smart vocabulary, it’s hard to remember he’s still just a little kid. (<- Yes, I just plagiarized that from my personal Facebook status. You’re not experiencing dejavu, Mom.)

Because 3 was his golden birthday, I really wanted to throw a Quidditch party with emphasis on the Golden Stitch. And while he says he likes Harry Potter, he really doesn’t know much about it. I let go of my obsession and gave him the option between Harry Potter and Space. He chose space.

Okay, time to “vent.” WHY AREN’T THERE SPACE PARTY DECORATIONS?! Once again, I found myself creating my own birthday party.

To make his birthday banner, I went the easy route this year. I found large black letter stickers at Michael’s. I made sure they fit inside the star shape, which I then traced onto gold cardstock. Cut out the stars, stuck on the stickers, and taped the string to the back. Easy as pie!

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The most important decoration was the golden 3 balloon, and I got the last one from the party store! Phew! 3 gold stars were also on my decorating wish list; another mission accomplished. But even using blacks and yellows for the tablescape, the space theme only came to life with my food.

Space Themed Birthday Party (food) | Sew You Think You Can Cook

Planet Pizzas and Solar System Salad were delivered by a local, Chicago-style thin crust pizza joint. The Suns were a giant bowl of clementines. Carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and yellow tomatoes were arranged to look like Rocket Veggies. Pineapple and green grapes were arranged to look like a Saturn Fruit Tray. We used a small star cookie cutter to cut cheese slices into stars which were served with round Ritz crackers for the Stars & Moons. We used my grandmother’s Christmas cut-out cookie recipe to make Golden Star Cookies. The trusty Walmart Bakery provided the chocolate cupcakes with yellow frosting, we added the star sprinkles to turn them into Cosmic Cupcakes.

birthday boy

My husband had one request for the party. The no-bake cookies from his childhood. I had him make them with Firecracker for the day. This recipe comes from his high school best friend’s mom. I’ve renamed them Asteroids for the purpose of this space themed party.

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Asteroids

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 C sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 C quick oats

Steps:

  1. Bring butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and milk to a boil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Mix in the oats.
  3. Form into balls, or asteroids, and place on a sheet of wax paper to cool completely.

No-Bake Cookies: renamed asteroids, they're perfect for a Space Themed Birthday Party

If you’re really intuitive, you might recognize the background of these pictures. We flew to Wisconsin to celebrate his birthday. And again, I need to give a HUGE thank you to my parents for allowing us to have his party at their summer home.

Thankfully the rain clouds parted the hour before the party and our outdoor gathering was a wonderful reunion with my cousins. If there’s anything my Firecracker loves, it’s making friends, and boy were there plenty of new friends to be had – we had a total of 16 (including my 2) kids running around the yard, playing baseball, and throwing 200 water balloons in a matter of minutes.

water balloons

Those kids went home with goodie bags filled with star shaped sunglasses, bubbles, lollipops, and glow bracelets.

 

 

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Here it is, the third and final recipe made with the 8 quarts of strawberries we picked while staying with my parents in Wisconsin in June.

kids berry picking

1 quart was turned into Strawberry Honey Sorbet. 1 quart was turned into No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream. Almost 2 quarts became this incredible deep dish strawberry pie. The remaining half of the strawberries were gobbled up by mostly my kids.

My mom really wanted to make pie with the strawberries. I’m not the biggest pie fan. I have a thing against warm fruit. But I’m getting better, I’ll at least give it a go on occasion. But, of course, I had to try the stunning pie I watched her make with her grandsons!

pie filling

These strawberries were quite different than those I get from the Farmers Market here in California. They’re different from the Florida Strawberries you can find in the winter months (depending on where you live). These berries were small, dark, and slightly tart. They also let off a lot of juice. My mom likes her pies to be a little on the “runny” side compared to the average pie eater and we ended up having to take the boy’s {clean} Tylenol syringe to syphon off some juice.

berry picking

The recipe for the pie dough was handed down from my grandmother and it’s my mom’s all time favorite crust. Unlike myself, my mom opts to make her dough over buying one from the freezer section. After watching her make the crust in a matter of minutes, I really don’t see why I couldn’t do that from now on, too.

pie dough

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 2 C flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C milk

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 7 C sliced strawberries
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 – 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter, cubed

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Make dough: Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl. Create a well in the center. In a measuring cup, combine the milk and oil. Pour into the flour and mix until combined. Form into two balls. Roll one of the pieces of dough between two sheets of wax paper into a large circle. Place in the bottom of a pie pan, patch up any tears.
  3. Make the filling: Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Adjust sugar to taste depending on the sweetness level of your strawberries. Spoon the filling into the pie pan, leaving excess juice behind. Dot with butter.
  4. Roll the remaining pie dough between two sheets of wax paper. Option to cut out stars for topping the pie, or simply lay the top crust on top with a couple of slits in the center.
  5. Bake 40 minutes, covered with foil. Bake another 30-33 minutes, uncovered, until golden and bubbly.

Fresh Strawberry Pie | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

We had a lot of fun with photography while the boys were playing in the backyard, going “old school” and putting the pie in the literal window to cool. Trust me, had the kids been inside, that pie would’ve been placed on top of the counter out of reach.

cell phone photos

And seriously, my all-time favorite photo of this pie is the one taken on my iPhone through the Instagram app. Check it out here! And if you don’t already, give me a little follow to keep up with our crazy life in between blog posts.

#BundtBakers: Untraditional Bundts

4ae7b-bundtbakerspost#BundtBakers is a group of bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bundt cakes with a common ingredient or theme.

Except that this month, Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice is breaking that mold and challenging us to think outside of the bundt pan. To bake something in our favorite cake pan that isn’t cake!

I didn’t know if I was going to sign up for this one given my summer blogging break but one of my best friends from college shared a Facebook video with me. Her timing couldn’t have been more perfect! The video was for a fajita bundt cake. Yes. Fajitas. In a bundt. It looked so fun, we just had to try it!

Picture your bundt cake. But instead of a rich cake center, imagine fajita seasoned chicken and veggies. Instead of a cake crust to cut through, imagine tortillas. And instead of frosting and sprinkles, imagine sour cream and cilantro.

The dinner was so fun and would definitely be a show stopper for company.

Chicken Fajita Bundt Cake (cut) for #BundtBakers from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Chicken Fajita Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 9 flour tortillas
  • 1 1/2 C shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 lime

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss together the chicken, bell peppers, onion, fajita seasoning, olive oil, and salt. Bake 30 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 360 degrees F.
  4. Brush a bundt pan with olive oil. Tuck 5 tortillas into the pan, add the remaining 4 tortillas behind the first layer. Put half of the cheese into the tortilla-lined bundt pan. Top with the cooked chicken mixture, tomato, cilantro, and remaining cheese.
  5. Press tortillas over the cheese. Bake 25 minutes.
  6. Flip out the fajita cake.
  7. Mix sour cream with a little lime juice, to taste. “Frost” the “cake.” Garnish with chopped cilantro and lime zest.

*This recipe is adapted from Tom at http://twistedfood.co.uk/giant-chicken-fajita-donut/*

Chicken Fajita Bundt Cake for #BundtBakers from Sew You Think You Can Cook

You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

And don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have created this month:

Bacon, Zucchini, Raisins and Cheddar Bundt Cake from I Love Bundt Cakes

Cheesesteak Bundt from Cookaholic Wife

Cherry Bundt Breakfast Danish from Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice

Chive Potato Filled Cheeseburger Meatloaf Bundt from Food Lust People Love

Classic Vanilla Flan Bundt from All That’s Left Are The Crumbs

Pasta Chicken Bundt from Sneha’s Recipe

Soap Bundt Cake from La Mejor Manera

Spinach Pasta Surprise from A Day in the Life on the Farm

#FantasticalFoodFight: Ice Cream

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Fantastical Food Fight has done it again, a food fight worthy of returning to my blog.

I’m laughing a little bit because my uncle teased me for blogging so much after declaring I was taking a break. (Thanks for being a true fan, Uncle Lar!)

The kids and I spent the end of June at Lake Geneva with my parents while my husband was doing a two week stint at the Pentagon. While on our trip, we went strawberry picking in Bristol. A lot of strawberries! We used those strawberries to make pie, sorbet, and no-churn ice cream.

Because I was at my mom’s house, sans ice cream maker, I had to go with a no-churn method for ice cream making. Luckily this food fight allows no-churn varieties of ice cream!

No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 qt frozen strawberries
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pt heavy cream

Steps:

  1. Place a metal pan in the freezer to chill (we used a bundt pan!).
  2. Thaw strawberries 10-20 minutes.
  3. Place strawberries in a food processor and pulse until pea-sized. Add the condensed milk, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Pulse until combined.
  4. Using a hand mixer, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed.
  5. Fold 1 C of the whipped cream into the ice cream base then pour that into the remaining whipped cream until blended.
  6. Pour into the chilled pan and freeze 2-5 hours.

*This recipe is adapted from Food Network at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/no-churn-strawberry-ice-cream-3364490*

No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream for #FantasticalFoodFight from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To check out these other Fantastical Ice Creams click here:

 If you would like to join our Fantastical Food Fight, you can learn more on our informational page.